Wednesday 7 August 2013
Prostate cancer could be dealt major blow through discovery of new 'biological markers'
More than 40,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK each year
Scientists are aiming to identify new molecules in blood and urine which hold the key to improving the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer – the most common cancer in men in the UK. The Nottingham Trent University team hopes that these molecules, or biomarkers, will provide them with vital clues about the disease and how it can be tackled more quickly and effectively.
The researchers, based in the University’s John van Geest Cancer Research Centre, will also analyse antigens – the substance produced in tumour cells – which would enable them to devise new and specific treatment strategies for patients.
More than 40,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK each year and there are currently 250,000 living with the disease.
New ways of diagnosing prostate cancer are seen as important as concerns remain over the accuracy of the current tests – the prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test and digital rectal examination – which can be as low as 30%. Furthermore, unnecessary repeated prostate biopsies can have serious side effects and standard biopsy methods can miss cancer in a large number of patients and delay treatment.
Current treatment options, which include surgically removing the prostate, radiotherapy and hormone therapy, also carry a significant risk of side effects.
The new two and a half year study, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Medilink East Midlands managed Healthcare and Bioscience iNet project, will also involve urology experts at University Hospitals of Leicester. The team will use the latest proteomic techniques – the study of proteins – alongside immunological, genomic and bioinformatics approaches to identify new biomarkers.
Researchers will be assessing existing patient samples in conjunction with an on-going clinical trial of almost 400 patients currently undergoing biopsy and assessment.
"It is essential that we generate new insights into prostate cancer and in order to do that we need to determine new biomarkers," said Professor Robert Rees, the Director of the John van Geest Cancer Research Centre at Nottingham Trent University.
He said: "More accurate biomarker evidence will result in more informed diagnosis, earlier and more appropriate treatment, and more efficient use of NHS resources.
"Novel antigens can also be investigated as the basis for new targeted treatments."
Hugh Gunn of the Prostate Cancer Support Federation said: "The research being carried out by the John van Geest Cancer Research Centre is of great value to patients. The need for vaccine and immunotherapy treatments that are affordable, unlike those currently available, is huge, especially to advanced prostate cancer patients.
"As biopsies carry a significant risk of infection, alternative diagnostic methods, which could also possibly recognise between aggressive and none aggressive cancers, is immense."
Notes to editors:
For more on the John van Geest Cancer Research Centre
About the Healthcare and Bioscience iNet
The Healthcare and Bioscience iNet is an initiative which is part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and delivered by Medilink East Midlands. A key aim of the iNet is to provide a sector-specific focus that enables organisations to exchange knowledge, form collaborations to develop new technologies, processes, products and services in order to build a healthy economy.
About ERDF in the East Midlands
The Healthcare & Bioscience iNet project is part financed by the Structural Funds for the East Midlands Region of the European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007 to 2013. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for the European Regional Development Fund Programme, which is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs. For more information visit GOV.UK.
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